• US special forces storm Nigeria, kill six kidnappers, free abducted American
• Walton was seized from his farm in Massalata in southern Niger
• The American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State
The kidnap of an American citizen in neighbouring Niger Republic on Tuesday went awry on Saturday.
Kidnapped American rescued by US special forces
American commandos, with security assistance from Nigeria, stormed the kidnappers’ den at an undisclosed locality in the north, killing all but one of the seven-member gang.
The kidnap victim, Philip Walton, 27, was rescued alive in the early morning high-risk raid and returned to Niger immediately.
The kidnap victim, was rescued alive in the early morning
Moments after the operation, President Donald Trump tweeted out his praise of the rescue mission.
“Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!” he wrote.
“U.S. special forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men,” said Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.
No U.S. military personnel were injured during the operation
”This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S. military personnel were injured during the operation. “We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking separately, said: “Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never abandon any American taken hostage.”
Walton was seized from his farm in Massalata in southern Niger at about 1 am on Tuesday by AK-47 assault rifle wielding kidnappers.
He has lived in Massalata for two years, raising camels.
The six gunmen reportedly rode to Walton’s residence on three motorcycles. They found him in his backyard and asked him for money.
He dipped his hand into his pocket and brought out $40 which he offered the men but the sum appeared too small to them.
In a jiffy, they overpowered him and pounced on the rest of the household –his wife, young daughter and brother- all of whom they tied to prevent them from informing the police immediately.
They then left with Walton, moving him to their den in Nigeria, just across the border with Niger Republic. But about four hours after Walton’s abduction, his family members managed to break free from the ropes that had been used to tie them and they alerted the authorities in Niamey.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers called the victim’s father who lives a half mile away to demand a ransom, according to the London Mail.
The U.S. government was also alerted and quickly set machinery in motion to rescue him immediately before the kidnapping could become a prolonged hostage-taking or the victim could be taken by or sold to a group of terrorists aligned with either al Qaeda or ISIS.